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Fonts 101: Serif or Sans-Serif

The difference between a sans-serif font and a serif font.


Ah, the age-old question of serif verse sans-serif fonts! What the font is the difference? Today we share the main difference and some key ways to keep them straight. Similar to "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" way of remember directions.


Serif and sans-serif are two main categories of typefaces or fonts. Although there are many other categories, these two are the most common. The primary difference between serif and sans-serif fonts lies in the presence or absence of small lines, known as serifs, at the end of the strokes that make up each letter.



Serif fonts have small lines or strokes at the end of each character, which gives them a more formal, traditional look. Examples of serif fonts include Times New Roman, Garamond, and Baskerville.


Sans-serif fonts, on the other hand, lack these small lines or strokes, giving them a more modern, minimalist appearance. "Sans" is originally a French term for "without". Thus sans-serif is a font without the small lines. Examples of sans-serif fonts include Helvetica, Arial, and Futura.


The choice between using a serif or sans-serif font often depends on the context and the message you want to convey, as well as the look and feel. Serif fonts are often used in printed materials like books and newspapers, as they tend to be easier to read in long blocks of text. Sans-serif fonts are often used in digital media, such as websites and mobile apps, where they can be more legible on small screens and at smaller font sizes. However at the end of the day, that is the beauty of design, it's up to the designer and in the eye of the beholder!

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